New proposed assisted-dying law is ‘racist,’ says disability rights activist


OTTAWA — Sarah Jama of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario says senators and MPs are supporting a new law that would expand the access to medical assistance in dying because they have not grappled with the consequences of medical racism.

At a virtual news conference today, she says Black and Indigenous people continue to be killed in Canada by systems that are supposed to serve and protect.

Jama says legislators are listening to assisted-death advocacy groups she describes as predominantly representing wealthier white people, who she argues are pushing for expanded access to the procedure because they are afraid to live with disability.

Bill C-7 would eliminate the requirement that death be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for an assisted death, but it also sets up two eligibility tracks — relaxing some rules for those who are near death and imposing stricter conditions for those who are not.

She says they are not speaking to those with disabilities who want to live with dignity.

She also raised concerns about a possible amendment that would put a “sunset clause” on the prohibition of assisted dying for anyone suffering solely from mental illness, saying that could make assisted death a form of treatment, without making treatment free.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship